A plethora of individuals to identify as or with an untraditional or eccentric identity or notion have often heard a form of criticism along the lines of: “You’re only x because you’re bored/have never dealt with real life/don’t have real problems,” or, on the contrary, “you’re only x because your parents hated you/you’ve been traumatized/your life is too hard.”
Both of these comments are an attempt to undermine one’s identity or perceptions through a basic rationalization. In a sense, both are an implication that who the individual in question is, is a result of a sort of coping mechanism. Either coping with the despotic simplicity or boredom of one’s life, or coping with actual hardships.
This approach in criticism poses multiple problems, such as the following:
- Unless the critic has at least minimal knowledge (but preferably more) of psychology, the idea is unsubstantiated. Furthermore, if one is to use such an approach, the critic should have the ability to explain how these notions or identities can result from trauma, or from apparent lack of issues in one’s life, and also how these issues can alternatively be handled. However, one should never pose as being in a position to give advice on mental health and individuals in question should be wary of those who can not provide proof of a license if one claims to be a licensed practitioner in any medical field.
- When criticising any notion or concept, one should evaluate it carefully. In the case of an identity or affiliation with an eccentric religion/spirituality, one should analyze the person in question’s responses to a series of politely and appropriately asked questions, such as: “How long have you had this belief/identity?” “Why do you feel this way?” “How did y lead you to believe in x?” And other similar questions. Yet too often, the primarily mentioned form of criticism is usually a direct form of dismission, and is from making assumptions rather than questioning and evaluating the individual. If you have enough will to criticize someone, you should have the time to actually know who you’re criticizing and if your criticism is justified.
- One should also take time to consider whether or not the presence of a coping mechanism, if not harmful, should even be of significance. For example, it is quite possible for a woman who has faced sexual assault at the hands of a man or men to become lesbian. Does it invalidate her sexuality knowing that it was inadvertently the result of trauma? Keep this in mind when considering using, or having received, the aforementioned form of criticism.
- It is common sense that the initial environment of one’s life or hardships (or lack thereof) one has experienced are not ultimately connected to every aspect of an individual. For this, most people can find empirical evidence: The majority of people will know many people who are x, but who come from different backgrounds. Replace the variable with any chosen identity or belief, and this will often prove true.
It should also be standard etiquette to not criticize someone’s identity or beliefs unless invited to do so, or it is relevant to the conversation with the individual. Yet far more often that not, such statements are an apposite result of pure agitation and should therefore be disregarded to begin with.